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Exhibition of First Nation regalia travels to Haa Shagóon Hídi

Exhibit of regalia worn by First Nation graduates fuses traditional and contemporary

Honouring our Future: Yukon First Nations Graduation Regalia is now on display at Haa Shagóon Hídi in Carcross.

The exhibition opened at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in January; it then travelled to Dawson at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre for four months; and will be in Carcross from now until December of this year.

The exhibition was the dream child of Teslin’s Lisa Dewhurst, who called on Mary Bradshaw of the Yukon Arts Centre to help make it happen.

The exhibit arrived in Carcross last week in four huge pallets containing dresses, vests, mannequins, headpieces and beaded slippers, moccasins and display boards.

As the exhibit was being set up, Sandra Storey, curator at Haa Shagóon Hídi, learned of other outstanding works made for Carcross/Tagish First Nation students. She gathered another five pieces that were lent to the exhibition for its duration in Carcross.

Dresses made for two of Keith Wolfe-Smarch’s daughters, Tiana and Nila Helm, were added along with Megan Jensen’s dress, a vest from Damion James, and Margareta Toews’ four piece set.

Storey said Toews’ one shouldered dress “is laced up the back all the way from here (pointing to her back waist), right up to the top. And then she’s got matching slippers and matching gauntlets. And the rabbit fur stole.”

It has a full run of long white fringe at the back that reaches to the skirt hem.

The exhibition has a youthful, modern presence with new takes on old ways. Metallic copper lame appliquéd on cotton with locally trapped rabbit fur by Teslin’s Autum Jules looks jazzy, while Sydney Anderson’s beaded hide yoke seems to span centuries. Tlingit designs painted on deerskin by Megan Jensen and the two of Wolfe-Smarch are new ways of keeping old traditions alive.

The exhibition in Carcross runs until December. Haa Shagóon Hídi is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and is open on alternating Fridays.

The exhibit next travels to Old Crow at the John Tizya Centre from January to April 2022; Haines Junction at Da Kų Cultural Centre from May to August 2022; then at the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre between May to August 2023.

Contact Lawrie Crawford at